You hear words like “rejuvenate” and “revitalize” when people are speaking of the Greater Lansing region, and you can certainly see the tangible results of those words around you when you’re out and about.
However, getting to put a face to some of the people who are continually striving to make a positive difference in the community we call home is always something special.
It’s part of the purpose behind Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine, and it was certainly a driving factor behind the magazine’s effort to partner with the Aitch Foundation to present the Inspiration & Influence Awards. The second annual event was held Oct. 16 at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West, bringing out hundreds of guests to celebrate the work and the stories of several local women.
When we started this program last year, it was heartening to receive a flood of nominees from across the area, and this year was no exception. It is exhilarating to fully realize of how many smart, bold, innovative and impassioned women are working every day to make our communities and neighborhoods better and improve the lives of those around them. Our nine-member panel of judges had the unenviable task of sorting through each nominee’s story and narrowing down the field to the four winners this year.
The 2019 Up and Coming Award for young entrepreneurs went to Ashley Brzezinski, marketing manager at Gillespie Group who has dedicated the past 16 years toward mentoring residents and youth in the Lansing area. Whether it’s leading a weekly youth group and adult leadership team, tutoring and volunteering in the Lansing School District or hosting a summer camp for hundreds of children, Brzezinski is leading by example and helping to shape our next generation.
This year’s Caring About Women Locally Award was awarded to Zaneta Adams, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. Adams herself is an attorney and dedicated advocate of both veteran and women’s causes. She is the founder of WINC: For All Women Veterans, a national advocacy group that raises awareness of issues facing women veterans.
The Judges Impact Award was presented to Pamela Miklavcic, founder and executive director of The Davies Project for Mid-Michigan Children. The organization has provided free transportation to medical appointments to hundreds of families who otherwise had no way of getting there.
The 2019 Woman of the Year Award was awarded to Priscilla Bordayo, a motivational speaker and CEO of the nonprofit Word Up, which targets bullying and boosts self-confidence. Bordayo’s goal for the organization is to target schools, bullying and insecurities in hopes of drawing attention toward the effect our words have on others.
I am extremely honored to give much-deserved recognition to these women who have done so much and embody the spirit of this awards ceremony by truly influencing and inspiring us all. We can all learn from the example they set, and we are proud to include their stories – as well as the stories of the countless other inspirational and influential women in the Greater Lansing region – in the pages of this magazine each month.